Minutes — February 2015 Executive Committee Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings

Attendance

Committee Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Andy Crim

Committee Members Absent

  • Diana Kern

Guests Present

  • Helen Davis
  • Wes Dotson
  • DeAnn Lechtenberger
  • Doug Morris
  • Thelma Scott
  • Brad Thompson

Staff Members Present

  • Roger Webb, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Sonya Hosey
  • Wendy Jones
  • Susan Mihalik
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, in Cedar/Cherry Room at the Holiday Inn Austin Midtown, 6000 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 3:32 PM.

1.  Introductions

Council members, staff and guests were introduced.

2.  Public Comments

Public comments were received from Thelma Scott of Barbara Jordan Endeavors about the achievements of her organization in 2014. She invited staff and members to attend their “Blue Carpet Gala” on May 2, 2015, where 10 students from Houston area high schools will be honored.

3.  Consideration Of Minutes

The minutes were reviewed and no additions or corrections were noted.

MOTION:  To approve the minutes of the November 5, 2014, Executive Committee meeting as presented.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Gladys Cortez

The motion passed unanimously.

4.  Chair’s Report

Chair Durheim reported on absences that were expected during the meetings including Scott McAvoy, John Thomas and Andy Crim for Thursday and Friday. Penny Seay from the Center for Disability Studies will also be absent but is sending Elaine Eisenbaum and is designating her as the alternate from that organization. Eisenbaum will not be a voting member as she has not been through Council Member orientation.

5.  Continuation Grant Awards

The Committee received public comments from Wes Dotson of Texas Tech University and the West Texas Community Network (WTCN) who spoke on behalf of the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project. Dotson noted the passion of the work and for their relationship with TCDD, and indicated his support for Doug Morris in his work on the grant project. Dotson indicated he was available as a resource for any questions on the project. Dotson recognizes that decisions about continuation funding for projects are the prerogative of the Council and that the Council needs to “get what it wants for its dollars”. He offered to do what he could to “make things right” but accepts any Council decision because he values the relationship from previous projects and does not want to jeopardize that in any way. He thanked the Council for its support of projects at Texas Tech.

TCDD Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones provided a brief summary of the Committee’s direction during the November meeting regarding the WTCN project. The grantee was offered an opportunity to submit a revised workplan with clear and measurable outcomes and objectives and with revisions to some activities. Although the grantee submitted clarification as requested, Grants management staff do not feel activities in the revised workplan have outcomes that are measurable. Jones reviewed information provided in the Executive Summary including the proposed activities. She discussed the proposed Community Connections events noting that TCDD staff see this is a process rather than an outcome and noted that there is no indication of follow-up for participants of the events to determine any end result or outcome. Jones indicated that TCDD staff have similar concerns regarding proposed respite training activities since an expected result is not indicated in the revised submittal. A proposed activity to be coordinated by the Burkhart Teacher Training Institute did not have grant funds associated with the activity and appears to be coordinated in partnership with the Texas Education Agency. A proposed first responder training did not provide sufficient detail to indicate how the idea will be developed. Ms. Jones noted that in general, the revised workplan does not indicate how proposed activities relate to the objective of preventing placement in institutional settings including state supported living centers. Jones also noted that several proposed activities did not have TCDD funds budgeted so it is not clear how those activities relate to the proposed TCDD funded project.

Mr. Dotson noted that WCTN staff apparently were not clear in their efforts to show that the proposed grant project would create a network of existing services with increased access to those services and the project would conduct an annual evaluation to determine if a family’s needs are being met by those services. Chair Durheim responded that the Committee has been clear in its expectations about the workplan and that the grantee has been given additional time to develop a revised workplan with the expected goals and objectives.

MOTION:  To not recommend continuation grant funding to Texas Tech University for the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project.

MADE BY:  Andy Crim

SECOND:  Mary Durheim

The motion passed unanimously. Chair Durheim acknowledged the positive results of other grant projects from Texas Tech University and encouraged them to apply for future projects.

Grants Management Specialist Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation grant funding to Any Baby Can for a health and fitness project. She noted that this is an education and participation model with the goal of enrolling 50 families per year. 137 families have been enrolled to this point and it is expected that the project will reach the goal of 150 families. Any Baby Can is in collaboration with other agencies to provide services including the YMCA, San Antonio Parks and Recreation, Arc of San Antonio, Brighton Center and San Antonio Independent School District. The project has been featured in local media and is looking at options for sustainability past TCDD grant funding. TCDD staff have no concerns with this project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $174,887 in continuation grant funding to Any Baby Can for the 4th year of a 5-year health and fitness project.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Gladys Cortez

The motion passed unanimously.

Jones next reviewed the executive summary for continuation grant funding to the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) for the Project HIRE higher education project located in Hidalgo County. A total of 43 students have been enrolled over the first three years of the project. 6 participants have already graduated with 4 finding competitive employment. The goal for the five-year project is 10 graduates. The project has also secured 18 long-term business members. Jones acknowledged that despite changes in leadership at DARS, the project expects to expand to the El Paso area. The project has no compliance issues and TCDD staff do not have concerns with the project. Committee members discussed the success this grantee has had not only with the outcomes of the project but in its presentations at state and nationwide events.

MOTION:  To approve up to $225,000 in continuation grant funding to the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services for the 4th year of a 5-year higher education project.

MADE BY:  Gladys Cortez

SECOND:  Kristen Cox

The motion passed unanimously.

Jones next discussed the executive summary for continuation grant funding to the Texas Statewide Independent Living Council (TxSILC) for a health and fitness project. This project takes a three-tiered approach by increasing availability and access to fitness programs for individuals with disabilities, connecting consumers to established health programs, and increasing awareness of the importance of health and fitness programs for people with disabilities. The project uses Individual Living Plans to determine and track consumer goals and progress. 163 individuals have been served to date by this project. Members discussed the disparity in participant numbers at each of the three locations: 37 at Brazos Valley, 92 at LIFE/RUN and 34 at Volar.

MOTION:  To approve up to $238,000 in continuation grant funding to Texas Statewide Independent Living Council for the 4th year of a 5-year health and fitness project with an encouragement reach 50 participants per site.

MADE BY:  Andy Crim

SECOND:  Kristen Cox

The motion passed unanimously.

Senior Grants Management Specialist Cynthia Ellison presented the executive summary to award continuation grant funding to VSA Arts of Texas for the Self-Advocates as Speaker project. The project in the Central Texas area conducts training courses for self-advocates that focus on story-telling, practicing interviews and presentation skills. A recent speaker’s showcase had 45 participants and 10 self-advocates have given presentations at four conferences or events. The project is expanding to the El Paso area and has 7 self-advocates who have begun training. Plans for the next project year include updating the training curriculum and recruitment of 12 additional self-advocates to participate in training. TCDD staff have no concerns with the project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $125,000 in continuation grant funding to VSA Arts of Texas for the 3rd year of a 4-year Self-Advocates as Speakers project.

MADE BY:  Andy Crim

SECOND:  Gladys Cortez

Committee members questioned if the training was available in multiple languages and it was noted that the budget includes funds for interpreters. Chair Durheim asked staff to follow up on the status of bilingual training. It was also noted that a disclaimer for the project notes that speakers do not express the positions of the Council.

The motion passed unanimously.

Grants Management Specialist Susan Mihalik presented the executive summary for continuation grant funding to Texas Parent to Parent (TxP2P) for a Public Policy Collaboration project. TxP2P has created an advocacy network to utilize self-advocates, family members of individuals with disabilities and other interested people to advocate for community-based services, transportation, housing, employment and education for people with disabilities. Mihalik noted that over the course of the project, grants funds have decreased and the match activities (volunteer time) have increased in a move toward sustainability. The project has always exceeded its goal for the number of volunteers each year. TCDD staff do not have concerns with the project

MOTION:  To approve up to $50,000 in continuation grant funding to Texas Parent to Parent for the 5th and final year of its Public Policy Collaboration project.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Gladys Cortez

The motion passed unanimously.

Grants Specialist Jones presented the executive summary for continuation grant funding to Texas Tech University for a higher education project. Project CASE is creating a sustainable higher education model in collaboration with other organizations and the business community to recruit individuals with developmental disabilities who are seeking to further their education and secure meaningful paid employment. Three students have graduated and are employed with the remaining participants expected to complete the program by 2017. Additional students continue to be recruited and project staff have presented the model at national at statewide conference. TCDD staff have no concerns with the project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $220,998 in continuation grant funding to Texas Tech University for the 4th year of a 5-year higher education project.

MADE BY:  Gladys Cortez

SECOND:  Kristen Cox

The motion passed unanimously.

6.  Outreach and Development Project Proposals

Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry reviewed the purpose of the Outreach and Development projects. Two proposals were received during the quarter, from Special Kids, Inc. and Down Syndrome Association of Houston.

The application from Special Kids, Inc. proposes development of their grass-roots organization to provide one-on-one services to help African-American and Latino families access culturally relevant assistance. The organization was founded by African-American families of children with intellectual disabilities and is expanding to serve Latino families. TCDD staff recommend funding for this project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $10,000 in funding to Special Kids, Inc. for an outreach and development project.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim

SECOND:  Andy Crim

Helen Davis of Special Kids, Inc. responded to Committee members’ questions regarding the use of funds for the project. TCDD funding will in part go to Spanish language translation of the organization website and other materials as well as establishing office space. Chair Durheim shared her knowledge of the organization’s history and its efforts in inner-city Houston.

The motion passed unanimously.

Cordry next reviewed the application from Down Syndrome Association of Houston but noted that TCDD staff do not recommend funding since it is a majority culture providing services to a minority culture which is not the purpose of the grant. Cordry also noted that the application focuses on Spanish-speaking populations missing out on services because of “language differences” and research shows that language is only one of the issues that prevent people from receiving culturally competent services.

MOTION:  To not approve funding to Down Syndrome Association of Houston for an outreach and development project.

MADE BY:  Andy Crim

SECOND:  Kristen Cox

The motion passed unanimously. It was questioned if feedback is provided to the organization. Staff indicated that information will be offered in the response letter.

7.  Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Webb reviewed stipend awards that were approved during the past quarter to the following applicants:

  • Arc of Texas: Events stipend for up to $5,956 for the 22nd Annual Inclusion Works Conference on February 4–5, 2015, in San Marcos.
  • Austin Travis County Integral Care: Events stipend for up to $6,000 for the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference on February 26–27, 2015, in Austin.
  • Austin Travis County Integral Care: Speakers stipend for up to $6,000 for the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference on February 26–27, 2015, in Austin.
  • Attention Deficit Disorders Association — Southern Region: Events stipend for up to $5,978 for the 27th Annual ADDA-SR Conference on February 28, 2015, in Dallas.
  • Children’s Disabilities Information Coalition (CDIC): Events stipend for up to $1,000 for the 26th Annual Children’s Disabilities Symposium on March 7, 2015, in El Paso.
  • Coalition of Texans with Disabilities: Events stipend for up to $5,528 for the 37th Annual Convention on March 31 – April 1, 2015, in Austin.

Webb provided an update on the TCDD Sunset Review. He noted that recommendations were approved at the December hearings to extend TCDD as an agency until 2027 and to direct management to monitor sustainable grant projects for five years past the end date of the project. TCDD staff have been advised that legislation containing the Sunset recommendations for TCDD will be filed in a bill exclusive to TCDD but that has not yet happened. Webb expects that the TCDD bill will be very short with just a change to the end date of the agency but also noted that he has asked that references to “the disabled” be changed to respectful language. Staff will make Committee members aware as legislation is filed and progresses.

Executive Director Webb announced that he will retire as of June 12, 2015. He provided a resignation letter to Chair Durheim and informed staff earlier in the day. He expressed his pleasure in serving the Council and people with disabilities for over 30 years but is ready for the next chapter of his life. Webb and Durheim briefly discussed plans to implement the transition process and noted it would be discussed later in the meeting allowing anyone that may be interested in applying for the position to excuse themselves from the meeting.

Webb indicated that federal appropriations for DD Councils increased approximately 1.15% for FY 2015. This is expected to result in an increase for TDDD of approximately $40,000.

Webb reviewed legislation filed by Senator Jane Nelson and directives from Governor Abbot for state agencies relating to contracting practices. Reforms include:

  • Public disclosure of all no-bid contracts with justification
  • Conflict of interest disclosure by all agency employees involved in procurement or contract management
  • Prohibit contracts with entities if financial interest by the agency executive staff or leadership
  • Board chair approval of contracts of $1 million or higher
  • Approval by agency’s contracting office/procurement director of procurements of more than $5 million

TCDD is already in compliance with the first three directives and the last two do not apply as there are no TCDD grants or contracts in those amounts.

Webb referred members to a handout of proposed legislation with impact to state agencies but noted none are of concern to TCDD at this point.

Webb provided a staffing update noting the resignation of Public Policy Assistant Celina Galvan. Efforts to fill that position will begin after these meetings. TCDD staff are planning to use the position vacated last year by Public Information Specialist Lucy Walker for a Planning Specialist to assist with project development and planning activities.

Webb reported that letters of support have been provided to Parent to Parent Network and Parent Resource Network for applications for grant funding from the Parent Resource Training and Information Center.

Webb reveiwed dates a locations of upcoming meetings to include May 6–8, 2015, at the Marriott Austin South and August 5–7, 2015, at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in San Marcos.

8.  Grant and Projects Report

Grants Management Director Sonya Hosey reported that DD Suite is now active and all grantees with 2 or more years remaining have been transitioned to the program. Quarterly performance reports and requests for continuation grant funding will be submitted through DD Suite for the active projects. New Request for Proposal applications will also be submitted through DD Suite. There has been a learning curve for staff and grantees but progress is being made.

Hosey reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report indicating that no concerns were noted. She discussed the Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report including a comment regarding the Arc of Dallas. Match funds were incorrectly used for a few unallowable expenses and have now been adjusted in reports to TCDD. Hosey noted that this was not intentional on the part of the grantee. Hosey also noted that Strategic Education Solutions has now submitted documents previously requested.

Hosey discussed the status of a project with the Arc of San Angelo. That project did not complete the agreed summaries of personal stories related to guardianship alternatives in time to be useful for Public Policy staff. The project has now concluded without full funding.

9.  TCDD Quarterly Financial Report

TCDD Operations Director Martha Cantu presented a proposed amendment to the Operating Expense budget for FY 2015. She explained that the approved budget did not reflect the current staffing patterns or account for the 2% salary increase for all state employees. The amendment applies to salaries and benefits only and proposes a revised annual operating expense budget of $1,696,128.

MOTION:  To approve the amendment to the FY 2015 Operating Expense budget as proposed.

MADE BY:  Andy Crim

SECOND:  Kristen Cox

The motion passed unanimously.

Cantu reviewed the quarterly financial report, noting that funds for FY 2014 have been closed out. The final Notice of Grant Award has not been received but is expected by the end of February. A 1.15% increase above FY 2014 funding is expected. Cantu further clarified that projected deficits in the FY 2016 budget are expected to even out from unused funds currently budgeted for grants and operating expenses.

Webb also noted that printing expenses for FY 2015 will run high because of a large increase in requests for the 2014 Higher Education Guide. Surplus funds from other areas will be used to cover this additional expense.

10.  Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Committee members reviewed updated conflict of interest disclosure information for council members and staff. No concerns were noted.

11.  Succession Planning Procedures

Chair Durheim discussed the need to approve the proposed Executive Director Position Description and the proposed Succession Procedures. Executive Director Webb noted that revisions to the position description previously offered by Committee members have been incorporated and that the position will be reclassified to a Director III position. Members discussed the recommended education and experience required for applicants.

MOTION:  To approve the revised Executive Director Position Description.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Gladys Cortez

The motion passed without opposition. Andy Crim abstained from voting.

Chair Durheim reviewed the expected process for selecting the new Executive Director. Durheim is the hiring manager with Martha Cantu serving as staff support. Other members of the transition team will be selected after Council elections are held. The team will include one additional member of the Executive Committee and two members of the Council. The position will be posted for 30 days after which the transition team will review and score applications, conduct initial interviews and select 2–3 finalists for second interviews. The team’s final selection will be reviewed by TEA who will contact the selected applicant with the offer of employment. Chair Durheim will contact that individual when the offer has been accepted and an announcement will be made to the Council. The Executive Committee reviewed some revisions to the TCDD Succession Procedures to clarify the procedures including added language suggested by TEA Human Resources regarding the hiring process.

MOTION:  To approve the revisions to TCDD Succession Procedures.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Gladys Cortez

The motion passed without opposition. Andy Crim abstained from voting.

It was clarified that travel expenses of applicants cannot be reimbursed. Advertisement and recruitment will be handled through the usual means with Texas Education Agency as well as social media outlets and nationwide search websites. A search consultant is not planned but will be considered if there is not a qualified applicant pool at the end of the 30-day posting.

12.  Executive Session — Discussion of Personnel Matters

Chair Durheim announced that the Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities would meet in closed session pursuant to Section 551.71 of the Government Code related to personnel matters. A quorum of the Committee was present. The time was 6:27 PM on February 4, 2015.

At 6:43 PM on February 4, 2015, the Executive Committee reconvened in open session. Chair Durheim announced that the Committee did not take any action during its closed meeting discussion on personnel matters.

Adjourn

Chair Durheim recessed the Executive Committee at 6:44 PM.

February 6, 2015 Executive Session

Attendance

Committee Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox

Committee Members Absent

  • Michael Peace

Staff Members Present

  • Roger Webb, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Koren Vogel

Reconvene

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities reconvened on Friday, February 6, 2015, in Cedar/Cherry Room at the Holiday Inn Austin Midtown. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 12:39 PM.

1.  Continuation of Unfinished Business

Chair Durheim discussed assignments of Council members to standing committees. Durheim indicated that she has asked Lora Taylor to accept the Chair position of the Public Policy Committee which was vacated by Kristen Cox’s election as Council Vice-Chair. Durheim also reviewed requests from new members and expects to finalize assignments at the May meetings. Durheim discussed her recommendations for the Executive Transition Team and members offered input. Durheim reviewed a proposed timeline to post the position, review applications, schedule interviews and finalize a selection but acknowledged that there are many varying factors that could modify that possible timeline.

MOTION:  To approve members of the Executive Transition Team to consist of Mary Durheim, Gladys Cortez, Kristine Clark, Scott McAvoy and Martha Cantu as TCDD staff. Two additional members are approved as backups if needed per discussion of the committee.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim

SECOND:  Kristen Cox

The motion passed without opposition.

Adjourn

Chair Durheim adjourned the Executive Committee at 1:06 PM.

Roger A. Webb, Secretary to the Council